He loved her in what ever distant way he could.
In the way a prisoner loves the idea of flowers growing outside of concrete walls.
Something untouchable; only real inside the mind.
She existed to him as a glowing orb of light.
A powerful, yet elegant distraction from himself..
And he clung to her as a fearful child clings to its mother.
To at last feel those pivotal emotions he was never permitted to develop.
He was twenty-five when she first met him.
He was lost, shattered, and self-destructive..
Yet he possessed the most delicate skin she had ever seen on a man.
Thin and milky white, as he had gone so painfully long without seeing the sun.
His eyes were searching, wide, and limitless.
Constantly betraying the unpredictability he was known and feared for.
Yet to his unwavering bewilderment, she never feared him.
Never greeted him with disdain or disgust no matter what he’d done.
She only cared for him as well as she could.
With soft hands, and an even softer, more malleable heart.
A heart which would eventually betray her in the most vicious ways imaginable.
She was lithe and comely, smiled freely, though rarely did she laugh.
Most often, she was somber, as the years of caring for others had reduced her to a pale, tired apparition of the vibrant woman she once had been..
And while she only cared for him out of necessity, for the sake of work, there was a unique tone of tenderness in the way she dealt with him.
There was pity, empathy, and perhaps even an emotion reminiscent of love.
She would often run a gentle hand through his hair.
Call him “sweetheart” as she softly took hold of his hand.
Tiny, innocent gestures he grew to crave with a passion she could never discern.
And so, it was within the walls of that cold, fetid building, a cord stretched between them.
First, without choice, but as time drew on, it became something more.
A drop of moisture which slowly formed into a cloud.
Just white enough..
To distinguish itself from the gray, lifeless sky above.
In his world, there was nothing but torment.
The unceasing pulse of anger.
Nagging, buzzing sounds which reached his ears alone.
The feeling of being tightly curled, stomach clenched..
Throat taught with suspended sobs which rarely broke free.
In that state, he would lie, night after night.
Forcing back the sensation of thick, asphyxiating sheets falling over top of him.
When in reality, nothing touched him at all.
When she first arrived, he stopped gnawing the skin off his permanently mangled hands.
Though to compensate, he spent the daylight hours pacing the length of his room.
Clenching and unclenching his fists while reciting poems he wrote himself.
Composed mostly of birds, blood, and an elusive, angelic woman.
A woman he wanted to possess as all dark things wish to corrupt the light.
Again and again, he walked the length of the room, knuckles shifting from white to red, and back again.
While just beneath his breath, he repeated a short verse he’d written :
“O blissful angel, carry me from this hole.
Into the arms of light, no longer alone.
I will have you, as the moon has the sun.
Broken wings of sparrows, mended one by one.”
Those delusions, potent and imbued with backward lust, became his most driving obsession.
An obsession so toxic, so ruinous, it could do nothing other than destroy what little sanity he retained.
For just one kiss. One less mechanical touch. One honest expression of ardor from her..
For that, however small it may have seemed, he would have gladly died.
Each of those desires felt like nails, tapping deeper and deeper into his skull as the days ticked by.
Until he became withdrawn, isolated behind walls of fleeting, artificial catatonia.
It could not go on in such a way. Not forever.
In time, the anguish rose as if his heart were a decanter;
Encasing that liquid pain until it was ready to meet with the brim and tumble over.
When it finally did, she was doused with it.
Cornered so suddenly all words became strangled in her throat.
Without warning, he sprung forward, closed his hands tightly around her wrists.
Tightly enough to cease circulation; to rouse terror.
With clenched teeth, he snarled the question that had burned within him as nothing else ever had :
“Why don’t you love me?!”
“Why don’t you love me?!”
Again and again until she sobbed.
Though not out of despair.
She sobbed out of bottomless, all-encompassing defeat.
It was a moment of utter collapse.
The moment when all of the effort she’d put into him became void.
As his hands were pried away from her, he was screaming the question with near guttural force.
Throwing everything he was, or had ever been, into his voice as she fled..
And as she slipped through the doorway and out of sight, he felt his heart shred itself.
His screams were then entirely without words.
They were overcome by that sudden, devastating manifestation of abandonment.
Which was, crushingly, all he’d ever known.
At the end of the hall, she could still hear him screaming.
But the screams were soon followed by the thud as he was thrown to the floor.
Finalized by the strangled whimper as a needle was thrust into his flesh.
Then, her ears were met with nauseating silence.
She gave herself in that moment to forceful sobs, hands pressed firmly to her face.
Nothing she had ever done made a difference.
Nothing she could ever do would make a difference.
His mind was decimated beyond repair.
And it was that realization which finally led her away from him.
She understood at last, that her kindness could not save him.
He was far too damaged, far too decomposed mentally to ever see light the same way she did.
He understood light as the absence of darkness, rather than darkness as the absence of light.
He saw beauty as the absence of ugliness.
Love as the absence of hatred..
So in his mind, her choice to show him compassion was a silent confession of love..
But the fact that she never outwardly proclaimed it, was what ultimately spelled his undoing.
It confirmed to him, once and for all, that he was a waste.
He needed her the way fish need water to breathe.
But she never could have allowed herself to carry him beneath the waves.
So in the wake of her departure, he was left gasping in air too harsh to take in.
Until at length, he suffocated.
Became so frail and thin that eventually, fever took the life he never really had away from him.
And no one wept.
There was no funeral.
It was as though he were as insignificant as a leaf..
Detached from a still-living tree, and left to blow away.
But she remembered him.
She remembered him as a trace of injustice..
As a symbol of how deeply - and entirely - apathy destroys the soul.